Archive for November, 2016

PLC: Electronic Template

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

plc_ecoverWhile paper-based PLCs are useful, electronic PLCs bring a new dimension to the teaching table in a couple of ways:

Firstly, they allow students to type / cut-and-paste content directly into their PLC. You can, for example, provide a list of required content in text format for your students at relevant points in the course and it’s quick and easy for them to add this content to their PLC.

When you examine the template you’ll see I’ve allocated a lot of space to content (25 pages, each with space for 24 pieces of content) and it’s not obligatory to fill every line of every page with course content. The reason for including so many pages is simply technical; unlike with the paper-based version you can’t add pages as and when they’re needed.

Secondly, they can be stored and accessed electronically. The pdf file format allows data to be entered and saved and this file can be stored somewhere like Google docs or wherever you normally store such files.

This allows you to quickly and easily access student PLC files to see how they are coping with different types of content – something you can do at any time because students don’t have to carry around physical copies of their PLC. This also means it’s easier to makes copies of student PLCs and they’re less-likely to get lost or damaged than paper-based ones. (more…)

Personal Learning Checklist Template

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016
Personal Learning Checklist.
Click to download pdf

Personal Learning Checklists (PLCs) are a simple and effective tool for identifying the extent to which your students feel confident they have grasped the key course content you have defined for them. Although the basic idea has been around in various forms for a number of years, if you’re not familiar with it, PLCs involve:

  • Teachers identifying essential subject knowledge.
  • Students keeping a record of their understanding of this knowledge.
  • In other words, PLCs are a way of recording work covered and whether or not it’s been understood and while there are different ways to construct PLCs, the basic format is broadly similar: a list of key subject knowledge against which students rate their understanding.

    This is sometimes done using a traffic light / RAG (Red, Amber, Green) system where students check:

    Red for no knowledge / understanding

    Amber for partial knowledge / understanding

    Green for complete knowledge / understanding.

    Alternatively some PLCs use a SIN system that involves checking:

  • Secure knowledge / understanding (i.e. confident that everything’s been understood)
  • Insecure knowledge / understanding (i.e. some aspects understood)
  • No knowledge / understanding.
  • Theplc_part PLC template I’ve put together uses a combination of both approaches to provide verbal (SIN) and visual (RAG) cues, although there’s no reason to suppose this system is any better or worse than using one or the other (or indeed some alternative formulation). Speaking of which, in a break with the norm I’ve combined course and revision PLCs into one document. This is more convenient than creating two separate documents.


    Since the content you include as key knowledge is a function of both the Specification and whatever you decide students need to know, I’ve left this section blank, to be filled by either teacher or student under the guidance of the teacher. My preference is for the latter, for a couple of reasons:

    Firstly, it means you don’t have to spend a lot of time and effort entering the key knowledge into the template at the start of a course. This can be done by each student as the course progresses. Each week, for example, you can provide your students with a list of this knowledge they are then responsible for adding to their PLC.

    Secondly, even if you’ve planned a course completely there may still be instances where you want to add a new or different idea to the PLC; by releasing knowledge incrementally throughout the course this gives you the flexibility to add or remove specific ideas.

    However you choose to identify course content for the PLC, it’s worth noting that you shouldn’t make  the content too broad (“different conceptions of culture, including subculture, mass culture, folk culture, high and low culture, popular culture and global culture”, on one line, for example) because this makes it difficult for students to accurately gauge their level of understanding. In this example, if they understand everything but global culture they may decide their knowledge in “secure” when it’s actually deficient in a specific area.plc_part2

    It would be better to break this example down into its component parts, using one line in the PLC for each area of knowledge (culture | subculture | mass culture | folk culture | high and low culture | popular culture | global culture, for example).

    The PLC template is available in two versions:

    A pdf file that you give to students to print and enter data manually.

    An electronic version of the pdf document that allows students to enter data directly into the file.


    The Sociology Support website has produced a couple of free Specification Checklists – one covering Education, the other Crime and Deviance, that can be used in conjunction with the Personal Checklist Template to save you a lot of time and effort.

    Whether there will be more, only time will tell.

    But while you’re waiting there’s also a free GCSE Specification Checklist you can checkout.

    A-Level Revision: Education

    Friday, November 25th, 2016

    ghrevAs an addendum to the Revision Booklets post, here’s one I missed earlier – an extensive revision booklet for AS Education produced by Greenhead College.

    As you might expect from a Sociology department consistently ranked as outstanding by Ofstead their approach is:

    1. Thorough – the booklet includes a comprehensive set of revision notes.
    2. Informative – the document is annotated with helpful suggestions about how to demonstrate various assessment objectives in written exam answers.


    GCSE Revision Resources

    Thursday, November 24th, 2016

    While it’s probably fair to say that teacher-created GCSE revision resources are a bit thin on the ground (and take a bit of finding), there are useful resources “out there” if you’re prepared to do a lot of searching. To save you the time and trouble, here’s some I found earlier (the quality’s a bit variable, but needs must etc.):


    Unit 1 Revision Guide

    Unit 1: Education

    Unit 2 Topics – keywords / concepts

    Crime and Deviance

    Mass Media Revision Booklet

    Unit B671 (Sociology Basics) Revision: Methods / Culture / Socialisation / Identity



    A-level Revision Booklets

    Thursday, November 24th, 2016

    If you’re looking for revision ideas / inspiration check-out this set of AS Sociology Revision booklets produced by the Tudor Grange Academy:booklet


    Booklet 1

    Booklet 2

    Booklet 3


    And if you want something to add to your classroom walls, they’ve also produced some basic Sociology posters:






    Social Action


    Sociology Factsheets: To Buy or DIY?

    Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

    fsheetLike all good ideas, this one is simple but effective.

    Distil topic notes into key knowledge points, add illustrative examples and brief overviews of advantages and disadvantages, throw in some exam tips and short “test yourself” questions, call it a factsheet and sell it at a very reasonable price to teachers – which is exactly what the Curriculum Press (http://www.curriculum-press.co.uk) has done.

    If you want samples of the various factsheets (their web site lists around 160), there are a few scattered around the web that I’ve cobbled together and presented here for your viewing pleasure:  (more…)

    Global Sociology Stuff

    Friday, November 18th, 2016

    globalstuffToday’s dose of “Sociology Stuff” is a complete Global Development chapter (or “World Sociology” as it was when these notes were written) originally created by Mark Peace and cobbled together from pages in my possession and those shared by Bridget Gray. Because of the somewhat arbitrary recreation of the chapter some of the initial pages / numbers aren’t strictly sequential but they should still make sense…

    While it’s not the most popular of a-level options there are areas in the chapter – such as global inequalities and the nature of social changes – that those teaching and learning other areas of the Specification might find helpful.

    Having said that, these notes are around 10 years old and the pace of global change has increased markedly over this time period, so you probably need to approach the statistical content with care – the more-theoretical areas, such as theories of development, are probably more-robust in terms of their long-term relevance.

    Lesson Plans: Family | Class | Religion

    Monday, November 14th, 2016

    Whatever your teaching situation or level of experience, Other People’s Lesson Plans can sometimes be a bit of a god-send – particularly when they come from the pen of practising teachers: whether you’re looking for a different way to teach a familiar topic, a set of basic ideas you can adapt to your own working style or just something quick’n’easy for a Monday morning when inspiration has temporarily gone AWOL, you might find something helpful in these 3 lesson plans.

    As an added bonus the Plans are designed to be delivered either with the teacher present or as stand-alone lessons that can be completed by students in the absence of a teacher.

    As far as I can tell they come from a book published by Philip Allan Updates, probably around 2006/7, but I haven’t been able to track down the exact title.

    1. Investigating domestic roles within the family The reference in the document to “more up-to-date statistics” at   www.sociology.org.uk/as4aqa.htm still works, but it’s probably easier to download the file here (although keep in mind these are around 10 years old and you probably have more recent stats).
    2. The relevance of class in the modern UK
    3. Religion in modern society


    Yet More Sociology Stuff: Education

    Thursday, November 10th, 2016

    A few more pdf pages from the inestimable pen of Mark Peace that, in no particular order (and with no particular logic), cover the following:

    Natural Intelligence

    Introduction to education

    Vocational education

    Private education 

    Class and DEA – inside school factors

    DEA – Cultural difference theory

    A2 Psychology: Research Methods Free Chapter

    Friday, November 4th, 2016

    holt-and-lewisOne of the simple pleasures of Wandering the Web™ for a living, made all the more enjoyable by that intangible sense of the unexpected (I know, I live my life through contradictions), is coming across Stuff That Is Free.

    My not-so-little face lights up at the mere thought of finding Something For Nothing, even though that “Something” invariably ends up stored somewhere on a half-forgotten hard drive, waiting for that magic moment when “it might be useful to someone, sometime”.

    This behaviour, which I’m calling “Simple Squirrelling Syndrome” – because I can – has a yet deeper dimension (I’m toying with the idea of “Simple Squirrelling Syndrome Squared”, but it may need some work). Some years after the initial find-and-save I get to spend further pleasurable hours sifting through multiple hard drives “looking for that study I know I saved somewhere, under a name that made perfect sense at the time but which is now largely meaningless”, during which I rediscover all kinds of things I’d forgotten I had. My pleasure is quite obviously redoubled. Probably. I’m not altogether certain I’ve quite mastered mathematical analogies.

    Anyway, be that as it may, the actual point of this rambling preambling is that I came across this sample chapter on Research Methods from Holt and Lewis’ “A2 Psychology: The Student’s Textbook” and thought of you.

    On the downside it looks like a chapter from the 2009 edition, but on the upside you have to ask yourself when was the last time a textbook said anything startlingly-new about the Hypothetico-Deductive Model? Or “the Research Process”? Sampling? Probability and significance? My case rests.

    The chapter also has a very pretty, colourful, layout, which in my book counts for quite a lot.

    Sociological Detectives: Evidence Summary Sheet

    Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

    sctv_evidenceTo complement the Theory Summary sheet you can combine it with the Evidence Summary sheet that performs a similar function within the Sociological Detectives sim. In this respect it provides:

    1. A basic structure for students to follow when making notes about the different kinds of evidence they can use to support or question theoretical explanations for differential educational achievement.
    2. A standardised format for sharing information around the class electronically (using Padlet / Google Drive for example).



    Sociological Detectives: Theory Summary Sheet

    Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

    Iftheory_summary you’re using the Sociological Detectives sim you might find this simple Theory Summary sheet useful because it provides a couple of helpful things:

    1. A basic structure for students to follow when examining different theories of differential educational achievement. It allows them to record information in a simple, consistent, way.
    2. If you’re sharing information around the class electronically (using the Padlet / Google Drive options I suggested, for example) the summary sheet represents a standardised format that will be consistent across all students.